Monday, September 2, 2013

European Adventures: Provence 2013

It's taken me awhile to get around to writing this post - largely because it took so long to review and edit the roughly 900 photos we took during our six glorious days in Provence. We were blessed with fantastic weather and crammed as much food, wine, and sightseeing into our time there as possible. Rather than bore you with a recitation of what we did each day, here's a brief overview of the things we liked best.

Food and wine
Over the years, I'd read a lot about the wonderful food and wine in Provence and we weren't disappointed. From our first lunch at the fabulous La Tartinerie the day we arrived in Avignon, we were delighted by the local fare. My first meal was a hearty, salad with slices of roast duck, crisp green apple, warm new potatoes, salad greens, nuts and cheese - all washed down with a couple of glasses of excellent rosé. When I close my eyes, I can still taste it!


And, I followed it up with three tiny desserts and delicious dark coffee.


Most days, we ate breakfast in the apartment we'd rented in the centre of the old walled city, had a hearty three course lunch at a local restaurant or bistro and, in the evening, snacked on treats from the city's main market (Les Halles) located just a few blocks away.


Beautiful, peaceful spaces
Another thing we enjoyed about France generally, and Provence in particular, was the way folks created beautiful, peaceful spaces wherever possible - little islands of serenity to offset the claustrophobia one might otherwise experience living and working in such close proximity to one another. Micro-gardens, balconies and entryways were often transformed into enticing spots to pause and savour the beauty of the day.

Chartreuse du Val de Bénédiction, Villeneuve-les-Avignon

History and culture
Provence has a long and fascinating history and, fortunately, many artifacts and historic sites from its different eras have survived. During our few days there, we visited numerous art galleries, museums and ancient buildings in Avignon, Villeneuve-les-Avignon, and Arles. Here are photos of a few of our favourites.

The Roman Amphitheatre, Arles

The Roman Colosseum, Arles

Le palais des papes (Palace of the Popes), Avignon
Palais des papes

Le pont d'Avignon (Bridge of Avignon)
Pont d'Avignon

A view of the palais des papes from Villeneuve-les-Avignon
Palais des papes - from Villeneuve-les-Avignon

Chartreuse du Val de Bénédiction, Villeneuve-les-Avignon
Chartreuse du Val de Bénédiction, Villeneuve-les-Avignon

Charming cityscapes
Avignon was a beautiful city for walking, but we were even more impressed with Arles, which was smaller, quieter and oh-so-picturesque.




The luminous landscape
Finally, of course, there is the incredible landscape. There are good reasons why so many great artists have chosen to spend time in Provence. The light, especially late in the day, is truly remarkable. On this trip, we didn't spend as much time exploring the countryside as I'd have liked but I managed to capture a few images en route back from the wine tour we took our last day.


Provence countryside

Would we return to Provence? In a heartbeat. This brief account barely skims the surface of all we experienced during our time there. (For instance, I haven't said anything about our apartment, which was charming, or about the people, who we found to be physically beautiful, warm and kind.) The long and the short of it is that we loved it and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys food, wine, walking, art and history as much as we do.

For a selection of a few dozen of my favourite photos from Provence, follow this link to a Flickr set called "Provence Favourites". A larger set that will give you a better sense of all that we did and saw is available by following this link.

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